Coronavirus Prompts Changes for TV Shows With Live Audiences

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The coronavirus epidemic in the U.S. has caused some TV shows that film in front of live audiences to rethink the practice, at least temporarily.

In the wake of the game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune choosing to go without studio audiences, several other programs have opted to follow suit. Still others are monitoring the situation or asking audience members to verify they haven't traveled to areas where the virus is widespread.

The Hollywood Reporter asked studios and networks across the industry whether shows that have live audiences will continue to proceed as usual in the coming weeks. Below is a rundown of those who have responded so far; this story will be updated as more information comes in.

Real Time With Bill Maher: The long-running HBO show is taping its March 13 episode without an audience and will go on hiatus after that.

The Price Is Right: Production is suspended for the time being. "As live audiences are integral to the format of The Price Is Right, we will be suspending production for the short term," producer Fremantle said.

Card Sharks: The start of production on season two of the ABC game show, also from Fremantle, has been delayed as it also relies on audience interaction.

America's Got Talent: The NBC show will film without live audiences effective immediately. The show is in production for its summer debut.  

Family Feud: The syndicated game show will tape without audiences for the time being.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction: The annual event, originally scheduled to air as a live HBO special on May 2 from Cleveland's Public Hall, has been postponed. A new date hasn't been set. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has said he will issue a public order banning mass gatherings to help prevent the virus' spread.

Los Angeles-based shows: ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS' Late Late Show With James Corden and The Talk, Comedy Central's Lights Out With David Spade and Tosh.0 and MTV's Ridiculousness have all opted to go without in-studio audiences, following their New York counterparts and a call from the state's governor, Gavin Newsom, to postpone or cancel gatherings of 250 or more people. Jimmy Kimmel Live, Lights Out and The Late Late Show on March 13 opted to stop production.

New York-based late-night shows: NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers, CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, TBS' Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, HBO's Last Week Tonight and Bravo's Watch What Happens Live will all go without in-studio audiences starting March 16. Full Frontal is also forgoing in-studio viewers for its March 11 show, with host Samantha Bee releasing the message below. 

Later, NBC announced The Tonight Show and Late Night would stop production through the end of March. Last Week Tonight will suspend production after the March 15 episode, and The Daily Show will pause for two weeks starting March 16. Full Frontal will also go dark after the offices and studios where the show tapes were "compromised," according to a statement from TBS. 

The Late Late Show With James Corden: The Los Angeles-based CBS show is continuing as usual for the time being, with the network monitoring the situation.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show: The L.A.-based talk show is suspending audience attendance starting Monday, March 16. "With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, and out of concern for our audience, Telepictures will suspend audience attendance during tapings effective Monday, March 16. This temporary measure will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and will not impact the production schedule of Ellen," said a spokesperson for the studio in a statement.

One Day at a Time: The Netflix-turned-Pop TV series, which premieres March 24, is filming without live audiences as of March 10.

PaleyFest: The annual Paley Center week-long festival featuring panels for scripted series including Modern Family, One Day at a Time, Star Trek: Picard, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dare Me and The Mandalorian, has been postponed from its planned March 13-22 run at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The Paley Center for Media is exploring options to reschedule the festival and all ticket purchases will be honored for the new dates. "As you are aware, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to remain of the utmost public concern. For several weeks now, the Paley Center, along with our venue host, The Dolby Theatre, has monitored the situation closely, staying in daily contact with local, state, and federal partners, as well as following the recommendations issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and following the guidelines of the local health department. Based on the most recent news and out of an abundance of concern, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s PaleyFest. While we were looking forward to presenting another stellar lineup of PaleyFest events, the safety of our event participants, guests, and staff is the highest priority."

Kids' Choice Awards: After initially opting to continue as planned, Nickelodeon decided Wednesday evening to postpone the show, scheduled for March 22. "The Kids’ Choice Awards scheduled for March 22, 2020, in Los Angeles is being postponed in consideration of the safety and well-being of every person involved with the show, which is our top priority," said the ViacomCBS cable net. "We will have further information about a new date in the future."

The Greg Gutfeld Show: The Saturday-night Fox News program will go without live audiences for the time being.

Night of Too Many Stars: The annual HBO special, a fund-raiser for autism programs, is being postponed. It had been scheduled for April 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York; a new date hasn't been announced.

ABC/Disney: The company says morning and daytime talk shows Good Morning America and its afternoon edition GMA3: Strahan, Sara & KekeThe View; Live With Kelly and Ryan; and Tamron Hall (the latter two syndicated by Disney) will go without audiences for the time being. ABC's lone live-audience primetime comedy, The Conners, has already wrapped production for the season. The View moderator Whoopi Goldberg addressed the show having an empty studio at the top of Wednesday's broadcast, as cameras revealed an audience of empty chairs, saying that the show taping without an audience was "unprecedented," adding that even when the show was taken off the air after 9/11, when it returned a week later, it was with an audience. Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, meanwhile, discussed the Bachelor finale with a small group of staffers sitting in their otherwise empty audience. Tamron Hall will suspend production starting March 16.

NBC's Today show: The morning show is suspending live audiences, starting Thursday, March 12, for both the first three hours of Today, which regularly incorporates crowds on Rockefeller Plaza into its broadcasts, and the Thursday and Friday fourth hour, known as Today With Hoda & Jenna & Friends, which has in-studio audiences. “The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority," an NBC News statement reads in part. "Per guidance from New York City officials, the company is hoping to do its part to help to decrease the rate of transmission in our communities. Our shows will continue filming on their regular schedule, and currently, there will be no impact on air dates.”

Dr. Phil: The syndicated daytime talk show is taping without live audiences for the time being.

The Wendy Williams Show: The New York-based daytime talker is also going without audiences: "Wendy values her co-hosts and their daily participation but in light of the current health climate, The Wendy Williams Show will not have a live studio audience until further notice," reads a statement from the show. "We will continue to produce a daily live talk show and look forward to welcoming the studio audience back when the time is right."

Rachael Ray: The syndicated show, which like Dr. Phil is distributed by CBS Television Distribution, will tape without an audience Wednesday. It's then going on a preplanned production hiatus through March 20; producers will re-evaluate the situation closer to the resumption of taping.

Saturday Night Live: The NBC late-night mainstay is off until March 28 as part of its regular air schedule.

Warner Bros.: All shows with live audiences that film on the Warner Bros. lot — including the finale of ABC's The Bachelor this week, CBS sitcoms Mom and Bob Hearts Abishola and syndicated talk shows Ellen and The Real — are screening audience members, the studio said in a statement: "We are asking all guests to confirm that neither they nor any member of their household have traveled within the past three weeks to or through a location that has been deemed 'Level 3' by the CDC [currently China, Italy, Iran and South Korea]. These new and temporary precautionary measures have been put in place out of an abundance of caution and out of concern for the health and safety of our guests and staff."

Conan: TBS' late-night show also tapes on the Warner Bros. lot and is subject to the same screening procedures. The production is going on a previously planned two-week hiatus starting March 16. The March 11 and 12 episodes were pretaped.

Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg, Sharareh Drury, Hilary Lewis, Evan Real and Jackie Strause.

March 11, 7:42 a.m. Updated to add that GMA and its afternoon version GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke will proceed without audiences for now.
March 11, 2:15 p.m. Updated to add that NBC's Today show will be suspending live audiences starting Thursday, March 12.
March 11, 2:55 p.m. Updated with Whoopi Goldberg's comments at the top of The View about the show not having a studio audience and Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest interacting with their staff without a studio audience.
March 11, 6 p.m. Updated to include that The Ellen DeGeneres Show will tape without an audience, effective March 16.
March 12, 10 a.m. Updated to include more L.A.-based shows going without audiences.